Lyin’ on the Couch Watching Oprah

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Fun with T-shirts June 6, 2009

Filed under: sewing — stephres @ 8:16 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I am not normally a recon kind of girl, but I love how easy t-shirt dresses come together. Also, I was disappointed in the lack of sports wear for little girls. It seems the stores have overpriced cheerleading outfits for toddler and then unisex shirts for kids. Megan needs a girl shirt to cheer her team! Plus this way I can customize it for her extra-long frame.

I usually start with the biggest men’s t-shirt I can find on sale:

Then I fold it in half, making sure I center the design. I usually cut off the sleeves at this point to make it easier to line up:

You can use a pattern, or cut up an existing shirt. I love using Carla’s raglan pattern for this project, available at Pin the pattern in place.

If I am making an a-line shape, I place the ruler at an angle coming away from the side and then cut with a rotary cutter. Today I am making a gathered skirt so I fold up the pattern to just below where the graphic on the t ends. Cut out and repeat for the back.

This is what I have so far:

Now I cut off the sleeves if I haven’t already:

Now I have the sleeve from the raglan pattern but I am going to shorten it up because I am going to used the hem from the existing sleeve and I like the look of the cap sleeve with these little dresses. Just make sure you mark where you lining it up so it’s even on both sides!

Here is the sleeve cut out:


Here are all four pieces ready to go:


Sew them together. I usually pin because those edges like to curl! Serge or zig zag stitch the edges. I topstitch for a neat look.


This is what it looks like all sewed together.


I have experiemented with different sleeve options and I really like elastic in the sleeves. The hem on the existing shirt makes a perfect casing for 1/4 inch elastic. I just measured Megan’s arm loosely for the length of elastic. Insert it in and tack at both sides.


Here is what I have so far:


Sew the sides, starting with the edge of the sleeves. If the bottom doesn’t perfectly line up I just trim it so it’s even. I make a rectangle out of the remaining t-shirt and run a long gathering stitch around. Then I pin the rectangle to the bodice, pick at the gathering stitches and sew into place.


Sew in the collar, this is the most stressful part for me. Just take it slow and be careful and you’ll be fine:


You make have noticed I used the existing hem whenever possible. It takes some practice to sew knit hems perfectly straight and I tend to cheat whenever possible. Another way to cheat is to do a lettuce hem. Set your machine on a narrow zig zag and pull the edge tight from front and back while sewing around the edge. I go around twice for a nice thick hem:


Here are some more examples, I hoped you enjoyed it! Megan wears these over jeans and as nightgowns too.





12 Responses to “Fun with T-shirts”

  1. Tom Says:

    Wow Steph! That looks great!
    That is probably the one pattern that I don’t have of Carla’s yet! I was always too scared to work with knits!
    What do you use for the collar? Is it a ribbed knit? Do you use the one from the original T?
    I need to get that pattern. I am sure all my answers are right there!

  2. Tom Says:

    Oh, and I like your scorched iron mark on your pattern. I thought I was the only one that had patterns like that! 🙂

  3. Shannon Says:

    GENIUS! love it – i think I need to make one

  4. Heather Says:

    Awesome Steph! I love the Guitar Hero dress! I had never thought to put elastic in the sleeves. That gives it an extra cute touch! One of these days I’m going to do this!

  5. Wendy Says:

    Love it!!! you are so right about those little pink team sets – they are $$$$. What size Tshirt do you think would work for a toddler?

  6. Teresajoy Says:

    Steph, I LOVE the Guitar Hero dress!!! That is such a cute idea! I am gong to try that!

    Thanks for the tute!

  7. Bernadete Says:

    Great job Steph. I am so jealous of your talent. Are those temp tatoos Megan is wearing in one of the pictures.? Too cute. You really are a great mom.

  8. stephres Says:

    I forgot about the collar Tom. I bought about a yard of ribbing and have used it on a bunch of shirts. You just make a tube, fold it over and pin to the shirt. It is pretty easy but you have to go slow to avoid bunching. Carla’s instructions are great, you should go for it! And thanks about the scorch marks; you’ll notice I scorched the shirt as well. Apparently the guitar hero logo does not take well to the hot iron!

    I think I used a 2xl for Megan but Wendy I think you could go considerably smaller for a toddler. Maybe take an old shirt and try it?

    My kids found out how to scam free tattoos out of the machine at our local hang out so she is covered with them. Delinquents!

    • Bernadete Says:

      Deliquents…you are funny. Makes me want to make little outfits for Milo. I swore I would not be one of those pet owner’s who dresses up their dog, but I wish I could sew. He would stylin’…

  9. ...t. Says:

    WOW Steph that is a great recon! I love the gathered skirt on it. Very cool. I’ll have to do that for Lily! I bet we have some old concert tees that I could use.

  10. Kelli Says:

    you are such a talented sewing diva!!! Seriously, you are designing the CUTEST clothing!! You are going to be my one stop shopping go to gal if I ever have a little girl to dress! A little boy too for that matter!!! LOVE the Guitar Hero dress. If Teddy sees that on Megan he will be devoted for life!!!

  11. Nicki Says:

    I dont know how I stumbled on to this but I love this stuff!! Great job. I love the guitar hero dress!

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